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Foles rallies Eagles to end 8-game losing skid

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Foles rallies Eagles to end 8-game losing skid

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) First-and-goal at the 1, trailing by five points with 2 seconds remaining.

Nick Foles walked over to the sideline during a time out to discuss Philadelphia's options with coach Andy Reid, confident he had the right play in mind to stop the Eagles' longest losing streak in 42 years.

``He called it, he wanted it, and he executed it,'' Reid said Sunday after Foles threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin as time expired to snap an eight-game skid with a 23-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ``He did a great job with it, so hats off to him.''

Foles threw for a pair of TDs in the final four minutes to overcome an 11-point deficit and give Philadelphia (4-9) its first win since Sept. 30. The Eagles have come from behind in all four of their victories, and their four wins by two or fewer points are a team record.

The third-round draft pick completed 32 of 51 passes for an Eagles rookie-record 381 yards and no interceptions. He was sacked six times, but withstood the punishment to also lead Philadelphia in rushing with three carries for 27 yards and a first-half touchdown that helped him build a 10-0 halftime lead.

Foles remained poised, even after Josh Freeman threw two touchdown passes and Doug Martin ran for a third score to seemingly put the Buccaneers in command midway through the fourth quarter.

``He has the potential to be a special quarterback in this league, and he's growing up right in front of our eyes,'' Maclin said.

Foles threw an 11-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor with 3:55 remaining, then led the Eagles on a 64-yard game-winning drive after the Philadelphia defense forced a punt with just under three minutes remaining.

In just his fourth start in place of the injured Michael Vick, the 6-foot-6 rookie set up the winning touchdown with a 22-yard completion to Jason Avant on fourth-and-5 to the Bucs 1. The Eagles scrambled up to the line and Foles spiked the ball, stopping the clock with 2 seconds left and giving himself a chance for one more play.

When Tampa Bay called time out to get its defense set, it gave Foles an opportunity to discuss the next call with Reid.

``We were on the same page. He trusts me, and that's big when you have your coach that trusts you in that situation,'' Foles said. ``I told him I was comfortable with the play and he said, `Let's do it.' The coaches were fired up.''

The young quarterback rolled to his right and found Maclin open in the side of the end zone, where the receiver made the catch going to his knees before being pushed out of bounds by cornerback Leonard Johnson.

The Philadelphia sideline erupted in celebration, however Reid and his players couldn't be sure the team's longest losing streak since 1970 was over until Maclin's reception was upheld by the instant replay official.

Foles kept the final drive alive with a 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Tampa Bay 31. It looked as though the Bucs might hang on before the rookie moved around to buy some time and keep Philadelphia's chances intact with his big completion to Avant cutting across the middle.

``Very special. Very humbling,'' Foles said of his first victory as an NFL starter. ``It's a great win, too, because we came back. We were winning, then we lost the lead. Guys stuck together.''

Tampa Bay (6-7) was impressed with Foles in the closing minutes, too.

``It's not easy to keep your poise when you're getting hit all day,'' Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. ``He did. He could have got nervous and he didn't. Sat in the pocket and made plays.''

Rookie Doug Martin rushed for 128 yards for the Bucs (6-7), who have dropped three straight games following a four-game winning streak that propelled them into playoff contention following a 1-3 start.

Freeman was 14 of 34 for 189 yards, including TDs of 1 yard to Mike Williams and 13 yards to Vincent Jackson, who had six receptions for 131 yards.

``Any time we lose, it's frustrating, no matter what the reason is,'' Freeman said. ``Philly just found a way to make more plays than us. Whether it was at the beginning of the game or down the stretch, it doesn't matter.''

NOTES: Tampa Bay held the Eagles to 29 yards rushing on 16 attempts. ... Avant finished with seven receptions for 133 yards and Maclin had nine catches for 104 yards. ... Philadelphia's Bryce Brown was limited to 6 yards rushing on 12 carries. ... Tampa Bay's 2002 Super Bowl championship team was honored at halftime. The Bucs beat the Eagles in the NFC title game that season.

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Red Penguins: The story you've never heard about the Penguins' partnership with Russia's Red Army hockey team

Red Penguins: The story you've never heard about the Penguins' partnership with Russia's Red Army hockey team

It may be the greatest hockey story you've never heard of and it's almost too crazy to believe.

The upcoming Universal documentary Red Penguins tells the story of how the Pittsburgh Penguins developed a partnership with a Russian hockey team. But it wasn't just any hockey team, it was CSKA Moscow, the government-run Red Army hockey team, the most storied hockey team in Russia. They had no idea what they were in for.

Barely three minutes into the movie produced by Gabe Polsky - whose 2014 documentary "Red Army" covered the four decades of dominance by the Russian national hockey team from the 1950s to the 1990s - and you are quickly caught up in a wild ride with Howard Baldwin and Tom Ruta, Pittsburgh's owners at the time, talking about how crazy the idea of getting involved with CSKA really was.

It's never really clear who had the idea and who approached them to form the partnership so you are left wondering why exactly the organization decided to take this gamble. Weirder still: The tangential involvement of celebrity investors like actor Michael J. Fox. 

Even if the movie initially feels rushed to start, however, you soon find out why: Because the real story is what happens when ownership sends eccentric lawyer Steven Warshaw to Russia to manage business there. That's when things get truly crazy.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a hockey team that never had to wonder where its resources would come from suddenly had to think about how to make money. Meanwhile, the American investors had no idea what they were stepping into. The Iron Curtain may have fallen, but what Russia was really like behind it was still largely a mystery to everyone. 

"I expected that the country would be somewhat functioning," Warshaw said. "It turned out I was wrong."

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A strip club in the arena, strippers on the ice, the Russian mob, bears, stolen money and even an alleged relationship with Disney all followed. Russia was a country in which there were few rules in the post-Cold War era and Warshaw and the Penguins found this out very quickly.

As the team grew in popularity, so did the interest of the Russian mob. Interestingly enough, the ownership group always expected their Russian counterparts to steal from them, but this only became a problem when they began stealing too much.

A plea for help from the Russian Army to combat the influence of the mob led to this telling quote from a Russian general: "I never had any problems with the criminals. If they paid on time then the arrangement worked.”

It wasn't until people involved with the team began to die that the ownership group realized they needed to end their partnership and get Warshaw out.

It's a story too crazy to be fiction and you'll have to see it to believe it.

Red Penguins will be available to stream via iTunes, Amazon and on demand on cable systems across the country on Aug. 4.

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Braves pitcher Mike Soroka out for season with torn right Achilles

Braves pitcher Mike Soroka out for season with torn right Achilles

Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka is out for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon Monday night against the New York Mets.

Soroka was hurt in the third inning after delivering a pitch to J.D. Davis, who grounded the ball toward first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag, only to go down on his first step off the mound. The right-hander knew right away it was a devastating injury, one that ensures he won't be back on the mound until 2021.

"It's a freak thing that happened," manager Brian Snitker said, delivering the grim news after the Braves lost 7-2 to the Mets. "I'm sorry it did."

Soroka yelled in obvious pain and tried to walk gingerly for a couple of steps before dropping to his knees. He couldn't put any weight on the leg as he was helped toward the clubhouse with the assistance of Snitker and a trainer.

It was a major blow to the two-time defending NL East champion Braves, who had won five straight despite struggling to put together an effective rotation.

"Somebody else is going to get an opportunity," Snitker said. "Things like that happen. These guys will regroup. Somebody is going to get an opportunity to do something really good. Our young guys are going to continue to get better. We're going to be fine."

Soroka, who turns 23 on Tuesday, made his first opening day start last month after going 13-4 with a dazzling 2.68 ERA in 2019 to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and sixth for the Cy Young Award.

Soroka was making his third start of the season. He came in having allowed just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings but struggled against the Mets, giving up three hits and four walks. He was charged with four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career.

Unfortunately for Soroka, he won't get a chance to make up for it this season.

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